A few months ago our church had a "season of prayer" in which everyone was asked to take a paper out of a basket and pray about whatever it said. I got "pray for your enemies." Not being much of a paragon of prayer, I figured I had lucked out. To the best of my knowledge I had no real enemies. People who upon reasonable grounds thought me stupid, yes. Those who have been grossly inconvenienced by my bad decisions, right. But, enemies? Certainly not!
Apparently I missed one.
For reasons unknown and probably unknowable someone poured Kitty Litter on my wife's flowers! Not once, mind you, but several times. I know almost nothing about gardening, but even our grandkids could be persuaded this spreading of Kitty Litter on vegetation is not a good idea. Presumably someone is going to the trouble of doing this in the middle of the night, since neither we nor any neighbors consulted had seen the operation. I assume it's being transported some distance, we know of no one living within a block of us who would have enough cats to generate this much litter. And, this is the second year they have gone to the trouble.
So what are you going to do?
It's not exactly a 9-1-1 emergency. The police really are quite busy arresting Meth dealers, chasing down local bomb makers (yeah, really), and they do have our weekly Hwy 70 shutdown to navigate. When Kitty Litter becomes a high investigative priority we can all go back to leaving doors unlocked -- real crime will have ceased to exist!
Should I take some action which could only put me on the same level as my apparent enemy? Maybe I could sit up all night with a shotgun and watch for the perpetrator. Two problems with that: I've never actually owned a gun, and can barely stay awake long enough for the 11 p.m. news.
I think this level of enemy might be what Jesus had in mind when He commanded: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." For most of us this is that last resort -- loving enemies when nothing else will work. Personally I wish that if God is going to test our obedience to this command He could first announce in a loud voice, "This is a Test!" Of course, if I prayed like I said I would when I picked that paper from the basket, would my love of enemies need testing?
One legacy from my parents is a vocabulary which gives me the right word for most occasions. True, sometimes I have to look up the definition of words I "know". And, true, I have been known to use a word or two incorrectly. Usually, though, I can honestly claim to be articulate if not verbose. But I am lost for the right word to explain the actions of this kitty-litterer. "Vindictive" attributes more intelligence than demonstrated, while "ignorant" is too obvious. I am therefore officially open for suggestions as to how to describe a Kitty-Litter-Litterer. Also, does the voluminous English language even have one single word for loving your enemy?
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.